How To Open SWF File | .SWF File Opening Methods

This Tutorial Explains What is .SWF File and Different Ways to Open it on Mac, using .swf File Player and in Chrome. You will also learn to Edit & Convert SWF Files:

Sometimes during surfing your system, you might have come across files with .swf extension. Also, you might have tried to open it but couldn’t do so. It is because you need to enable Adobe Flash in your browser or you will need some specific software to open such files. Enabling Flash usually solves the purpose but it can be risky.

To open an SWF file, you can use VLC Player or the hidden Flash player from Adobe that developers often use. You can also convert and edit them. But before that, we will tell you how to open an SWF file. But let’s first understand what is it?

How to open SWF file

What Is .SWF File

SWF is pronounced as Swiff, a file extension means, it is a Shockwave Flash Movie file that has been created by an Adobe program. These are animation files that usually hold interactive texts and graphics and are used for online games.

SWF File icon

Some of Adobe’s products also create SWF files. But sometimes a handful of non-Adobe programs also produce such files. It is also called the Small Web Format because it can include a video, audio, and animations that are all compressed to make it easy to share them online. Windows won’t automatically play the SWF file because Flash is being phased out.

Various Ways To Open .SWF File

Open SWF File In Explorer

Viewing an SWF file in any browser needs Flash and that can be problematic because not the only Flash is the soft point for virus and hacker attacks, it is also outdated. And that’s why most browsers automatically block it.

If you are trying to run the SWF file in Internet Explorer, you will have to enable the Flash first.

Enable Flash In IE:

1. Launch IE

2. Go to the gear cog. You can find it in the top-right corner.

3. Select Manage add-ons from the drop-down menu.

Enable Flash In IE

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4. Click on Toolbars and Extensions on the next page.

Click on Toolbars and Extensions

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5. Scroll to the Microsoft Windows Third Party Application Component option.

6. Select Shockwave Flash Object.

Shockwave Flash Object

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7. Click the enable button under status.

8. Hit Close.

Run the SWF file

  • Open the Explorer again and right-click on the file.
  • Click on the Open With option.
  • You will be asked how do you want to open this file, and will be prompted to go to Apps Store.
  • Click on more apps.
  • Select Internet Explorer and click ok.

You will be able to see the contents of the file. If you see the warning that it uses ActiveX, click Allow to go around it.

How To Open SWF Files On Mac

If you are a Mac user, then you might have come across the SWF files. If you want to open and play any SWF file on Mac, here are some tools that you can use.

VLC Player

VLC Player

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  • Download VLC for Mac from its official website.
  • Open VLC Player.
  • Drag and drop the file into VLC.

You will be able to play the file on your Mac. To view a media file, VLC is a good option. But its capabilities extend beyond that, it can do much more.

Official Website: VLC Player

Web Browser

You can simply install Adobe Flash plugin in your browser to open the file in a browser, be it Opera, Chrome, or Firefox. But it comes with a risk. So, never install the plugin in Safari. Unlike before, most browsers don’t come with a pre-installed Flash Player. But the earlier versions of the browsers still comes with Flash Player as an option, bundled, or built-in.

In earlier Chrome versions, you can turn off Flash whenever you don’t need it. So, if you are using Chrome, you must enable the plugin to run. For security reasons, you must uninstall Flash from Mac and use it only sandboxed within a browser like Chrome.

Enabling Flash in Chrome

  • In the address bar of the Chrome type chrome://settings/content and hit enter.
  • Scroll down to the Flash Tab.

Enabling Flash in Chrome

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  • Turn off Block sites from Running Flash option and you will see the Ask First feature.

Now, whenever, there is a website or a file that needs Flash, you will be asked if you want to activate the plug-in for that particular site.

Opening SWF Files On Android

When you are looking to open or play an SWF file on your Android device, SWF Player- Flash File Viewer can come in handy. You can download the app here.

SWF Player- Flash File Viewer

How To Open SWF Files With SWF Player

Follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Install the SWF player on your device.
  • Open the app and click on local files.
  • Search the file you want to open and select it.
  • Tap it to play it.
  • While it’s playing, click on the back button to open its on-screen controls.

Opening SWF Files Outside The Browsers

As we know, browsers are withdrawing the support for Adobe Flash. So, the question arises here is how will you open these files? Well, Adobe has a hidden flash player that you can download for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This hidden flash player is known as Flash Player content debugger.

To download it, go to the Debug Downloads Page on the website of Adobe.

Opening SWF files Outside the Browsers

On that page, go to the Download the Flash Player projector content debugger link.

Flash Player projector

If you are downloading on Windows, all you will have to do is run the .exe file with a double-click. And you will get a simple window of Flash Player. Then, just drag and drop your file into the window or you can open it through file option.

You can also zoom the window if the Flash object is too small to look at clearly. Right-click the flash object to control standard options or you can also use the menu bar. And you can keep using it even after the browsers have completely withdrawn Flash. It is a very compatible tool for anyone who needs to work with Flash.

Converting An SWF File

If you want to convert it into other formats like AVI, MOV, HTML5, MP4, or MP3 in some cases, you can use any of the free video file converters. There SWF converters can help you convert the SWF file into a PNG or GIF file. And some apps like Adobe Animate can convert it into an EXE file making it easy to run them without Flash Player.

You can use tools like After Effects, Freemake Video Converter, FileZigZag, or SWF Tools

Converting SWF to MP4 or MOV with After Effects:

  • Download and install After effects from here.
  • Open the app and import the file. To import the file go to the File menu, select import, go to import files and pick the SWF file you want to open.
  • Add the file to the render queue either by dragging it or go to compositions and add to render queue.
  • Set the settings in the output module in the render queue and set the output to wherever you want the file to go.

Editing SWF Files

FLA files or Adobe Animate Animation files compile SWF files and that’s why it is not easy to edit them. Instead, you can edit the FLA file itself. These are the binary files that hold the source files for the entire Flash application. These FLA files are compiled with a Flash authoring program to build SWF files.

If you are a Mac user, you can use Flash Decompiler Trillix to convert them to FLA files for editing and converting various components of the SWF file without using Adobe Flash. You can download the Flash decompiler here.

FAQs For SWF Files

Q #1) How can I open the SWF file in Chrome?

Answer: You can open the file in Chrome by dragging it to the browser or right-click on the SWF file, go to Open With option, and select Chrome.

Q #2) Can I play SWF files in VLC?

Answer: VLC supports SWF files usually but not always. You can convert the file into audio or video format and then play it in VLC.

Q #3) Is it safe to open SWF files?

Answer: Flash, particularly is very vulnerable but SWF doesn’t pose any threat to your server as it is downloaded to the clients and is run there. Also, to make sure that it is safe, you can run a malware scan, although it won’t be much.

Q #4) Can I convert SWF to MP4 using VLC Player?

Answer: Yes. to convert SWF to MP4 using VLC, follow these steps:

  • Download and install VLC player.
  • Launch VLC and click on the Media icon.
  • Select convert/save option.
  • Add the SWF you want to convert on the window’s right-side and select convert/save option again.
  • In Profile, select the output format as MP4, save it in the temp folder and name the file.
  • Click on start.


Usually, you should leave an SWF file alone. But if you absolutely need to open it, there are various options you can use. You can open it in IE and other web browsers or use VLC player to open and run the file. When you are opening it with browsers, make sure you enable Flash in your browser.

Suggested reading =>> How to open .AIR files

But don’t forget that the support for Flash will no longer be available in any new version of the browsers and that Flash is no longer safe to use because it is susceptible to viruses and hacks. So, when you are not using it, you must disable or uninstall it.

There are ways to open an SWF file without Flash as well. You can use the tools like SWF players or use the hidden Flash Player by Adobe. You can also convert these files to open.

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